CARSON -- David Beckham omission for Great Britain's Olympic soccer team stunned and disappointed his teammates, who were looking forward to seeing the English icon suit up at his hometown London Games.
Beckham wasn't made available after Thursday's training session, so all we have from him is the statement his representatives released, but teammates were vocal in Great Britain manager Stuart Pearce's decision, reported widely in the British media, not to include Beckham on his 18-man roster.
“I was surprised, yes,” said Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, who played in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, helping the U.S. to the semifinals. “I think we're all disappointed. I think we probably all don't agree with the decision, but that's the way soccer is and always has been that way, and we're disappointed for David.
“You look at it in the bigger context, the opportunity to play in the Olympics in your home country is really special, and to have that taken away from you is devastating. Especially for a guy who has done so much for the sport in that country. It doesn't really make sense. But that's life.”
Beckham was informed this week that he would not be one of three overage players on Pearce's side at the London Olympics. Beckham played a crucial role in bringing the Games to his hometown and has served the organizers in an ambassadorial role. He was widely considered a shoo-in for the team, but Pearce, according to media reports in England, will instead select Liverpool's Craig Bellamy, Manchester United's Ryan Giggs and Manchester City's Micah Richards for the over-23 slots.
“Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me,” Beckham said in a statement widely disseminated Thursday. “So I would have been honored to have been part of this unique Team GB squad. Naturally, I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold.”
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said he was surprised by the decision, but when asked if Beckham would be in London for the Olympics regardless, and whether he would be OK with that, replied that he hadn't “spoken to him about it. We'll talk about it at the right time.”
Irish forward Robbie Keane, who has spent most of his career in Britain, said he was disappointed, that he thought “the whole country was probably thinking that it was 100 percent that he was going to be picked.”
Keane cut off further questions on the topic with a group of media and stormed away in the middle of his session -- the first time to our knowledge a Galaxy player has ever done so.